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Re: Fixing dinosaurian carnivour question



At 08:30 AM 5/26/99 -0700, Frank wrote:

>Well, if you really want to be paleo-politically correct,  I suppose that
>birds may be dinosaurs.

If you want to be *SCIENTIFIC*, then we must regard birds as dinosaurs.  On
the other hand, if all you are interested in is a chat room for
"dino-groupies", then go ahead and exclude Aves.

>I know there are those who love to refer to
>(classic)dinosaurs as extinct avians,

Actually, there are very few who would do that: George Olshevsky's taxonomy
includes some (but not all) of the "classic" dinosaurs in Aves, and
Patterson once suggested using a definition for Aves which was the same as
Gauthier's formulation of Pseudosuchia (i.e., modern birds and all taxa
closer to modern birds than to crocodilians).  However, the majority of
working paleontologists and other interested folks are content with
restricting Aves to some subset within maniraptoran coelurosaurian dinosaurs.

_Diatryma_, _Foro_, _Dinornis_: now those are some critters everyone would
agree are extinct avians.

>and others love to refer to them as
>non-avian dinosaurs.

Oh, yeah, we "love" to.  Just as I "love" when I refer to non-human
primates.  It has nothing to do with trying to be precise, I guess...

>I guess that makes us non-extinct pelycosaurs.

No, but we are extant synapsids.

>Even if
>we agree to confine our discussions to pre-KT creatures, I wonder how many of
>us would stick around if the focus was extensive rambles on prehistoric
>pigeons and sparrows.

(Hey, a pigeon or sparrow prior to the K-T boundary (which would be
different from a "pre-KT", or Jurassic and earlier, taxon... sorry, more
nits to pick...) would be a MAJOR discovery!!).

Focus on Mesozoic birds?  Not exclusively (I like my theropods with stumpy
two-fingered arms!), but they certainly fall within the bounds of the reason
this list was established (i.e., discussion of dinosaur science).

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Vertebrate Paleontologist     Webpage: http://www.geol.umd.edu
Dept. of Geology              Email:tholtz@geol.umd.edu
University of Maryland        Phone:301-405-4084
College Park, MD  20742       Fax:  301-314-9661